The Double Down: A King Among Queens, Or A Joker In The Deck?

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Double Down

The reels are always spinning in the gambling industry, and “The Double Down” is here every Friday to catch you up on all of the week’s biggest news. Sports Handle’s “Get a Grip” rounds up everything on the sports betting side, and US Bets provides the best of the rest: brick-and-mortar happenings, online casino developments, poker headlines, and more. So pull up a chair, crunch the numbers, and slide forward another stack of chips.

The dreaded ‘Florida man’ is at it again

A man entering a so-called “ladies only” poker tournament is nothing new. However, when it happens in Florida in 2023 — a state and a time in which gender identity is a perpetual political football — this bending of the intended rules takes on a different shape.

Especially on social media. And especially when the man wins the tournament.

David Hughes, a 70-year-old man from Delton, Florida, entered the $250 buy-in re-entry “Ladies No-Limit Hold’em” event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, last weekend, the lone male in a field of 83 players. After busting and re-buying multiple times, he finished in first place for $5,555.

By Florida law, casinos cannot prohibit men from entering poker tournaments intended for women. The same is true in Nevada, where the World Series of Poker got somewhat creative about a dozen years ago, when men first started entering ladies’ events in substantial numbers, and set different price points for men to enter the tourneys. If a guy wanted to play in the $1,000 buy-in WSOP Ladies Event, he was permitted to do so, but he had to pay $10,000 for his entry.

Hughes is no trailblazer, and even his winning the event was not a first. In 2009, Abraham Korotki won a “ladies only” tournament at Borgata in Atlantic City, and that same year, Greg Sessler won a WSOP Circuit Ladies Event in Lake Tahoe — holding pocket queens on the final hand.

Those opposed to men entering these tournaments point out how much some women look forward to the occasional opportunity to play only against other women and how it often creates a more relaxed, collegial environment. Hall of Famer Daniel Negreanu has been blogging about it as far as back as 2010, and in 2012, he got fired up enough to tweet, “If you are a male considering playing the WSOP ladies event on Friday, please know you are a douchebag and I hope you end up homeless.”

In 2011, Jonathan Epstein made the final table of the WSOP Ladies Event, and the observers on the rail booed his every move. When he was eliminated in ninth place, tournament director Robbie Thompson gleefully announced, “Finally, welcome to the Ladies Event.”

But what’s different about Hughes’ victory a few days ago is the environment in which it took place. Florida is advancing and expanding legislation dubbed by some the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as well as a “Don’t Say Period” bill, while the governor picks fights with Disney and makes LGBTQ rights an issue whenever possible.

So, whether Hughes had some sort of larger political motivation or was just the latest in a long line of men seeking attention and/or personal poker opportunity regardless of whom it pisses off, his win reverberated differently in 2023 than it would have in most previous years. You don’t have to look hard on social media to find phrases like “trolling of libs” and other such political spins on a bald dude with a beard winning what was intended to be a ladies-only tournament.

According to poker pro Ebony Kenney, “Dave said he wouldn’t be playing any more ladies events moving forward.” If so, that would be one small step for one man, but this issue feels many giant leaps away from being resolved.

This week on Gamble On …

Every Thursday, US Bets drops a new episode of the Gamble On podcast, and this week’s welcomed sports bettor, card counter, former dealer, film consultant, and documentary subject Gina Fiore for a wide-ranging look into the life of a professional gambler:

Slots, but not lots

U.K. White Paper Says Online Slots Should Be Limited, While U.S. Operators Offer Spendy Spins

A history of incompetence

In Gaming Regulation, What They Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Derby coverage is our Forte

Kentucky Derby Betting Preview: Dermatology, Disney Princes, And An Open Field

Michigander To Ride In Kentucky Derby As Northville Push Hits Speed Bump

We see right through you

Online Poker Transparency Bill In Nevada Primed For Another Run

Climate changeup

Heat Is A Home Run Bettor’s Best Friend, American Meteorological Society Study Finds

So crazy, it just might work

‘Crazy Eddie’ Nephew Shifts Strategy In Lawsuit Against BetMGM

Jai and mighty

Jai Alai At Another Crossroads As Battle Court Playoffs Begin

Ya gotta spend money to raise money

‘Millionaire Parties’ Are Making A Comeback After Two Down Years

More from around the gambling biz

PRE-DERBY GLASS HALF EMPTY: Churchill calls equine fatalities unusual, unacceptable [BloodHorse]

PRE-DERBY GLASS HALF FULL: Churchill Downs Inc. expects record-breaking Derby week [BloodHorse]

PROBLEM SOLVERS: Mindway AI, Doura-Schawohl Consulting, form partnership to address problem gambling [CDC Gaming Reports]

RECESSION REGRESSION?: UNLV economists ease predictions on likelihood of recession [Las Vegas Review-Journal]

ASHES TO ASHES: Smoking in casinos would be banned in St. Louis County under proposed measure [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

GUARDIANS OF THE CASINO FUNDS: How Cleveland City Council directs millions in casino money [Signal Cleveland]

SERVERS GET SERVED: Ontario casino ransomware attack ‘as bad as it gets,’ expert says [CTV News]

Image: Blundell Design


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